The Pachinko Parlour

Elisa Shua Dusapin



Longlisted for The National Book Critics Circle Awards for Barrios Books in Translation Prize.

From the author of Winter in Sokcho, Winner of the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature.

The days are beginning to draw in. The sky is dark by seven in the evening. I lie on the floor and gaze out of the window. Women’s calves, men’s shoes, heels trodden down by the weight of bodies borne for too long. 

It is summer in Tokyo. Claire finds herself dividing her time between tutoring ten-year-old Mieko, in an apartment in an abandoned hotel, and lying on the floor at her grandparents: daydreaming, playing Tetris and listening to the sounds from the street above. The heat rises; the days slip by.

The plan is for Claire to visit Korea with her grandparents. They fled the civil war there over fifty years ago, along with thousands of others, and haven’t been back since. When they first arrived in Japan, they opened Shiny, a pachinko parlour. Shiny is still open, drawing people in with its bright, flashing lights and promises of good fortune. And as Mieko and Claire gradually bond, a tender relationship growing, Mieko’s determination to visit the pachinko parlour builds.

The Pachinko Parlour is a nuanced and beguiling exploration of identity and otherness, unspoken histories, and the loneliness you can feel amongst family. Crisp and enigmatic, Shua Dusapin’s writing glows with intelligence.

‘Dusapin’s beautiful prose, with imagery both metallic and mineral, insinuates its way towards a delicate empathy between the generations, as well as examining the confusion that comes with dual nationality, and the lifetime loss that is exile.’ Catherine Taylor, Irish Times

‘Fragmentation, recurring imagery and a flair for evoking atmosphere so effective that lassitude seems to seep through the pages recalls Deborah Levy’s writing.’ Guardian

‘A captivating exploration of identity and unspoken histories.’

‘Pleasantly atmospheric; absorbing in their attention to detail and the beauty of the mundane.i-D, 7 Chic Books for Summer

‘A beautiful book.’ Joanna Lee for BBC Radio 4 Open Book

‘[An] impactful book about heritage and discovery.’ i-D Guide

‘This tale of shared history and identity is written in prose that crackles with intelligence and imagination.’ ES Magazine

‘Dusapin’s beautiful prose with imagery both metallic and mineral, insinuates its way towards a delicate empathy between the generations, as well as examining the confusion that comes with dual nationality, and the lifetime loss that is exile.’  Irish Times

‘Intrinsically atmospheric.’ Asian Review of Books

‘A multifaceted, complex, precious gem of a novel.’ i newspaper

‘Dusapin is a captivating new female voice whose work is perfectly rendered and lingers long after the last page is read.’ Happy Magazine

‘In beautifully sparse prose, The Pachinko Parlour is a contemplation on language, history and trauma and how, in spite of the ineffable past, we eventually come to console one another.’ Yan Ge, author of The Strange Beasts of China

‘In prose as softly elegiac as it is laser-sighted, Elisa Shua Dusapin conjures up a Tokyo that is less mighty metropolis than boundless night sky, twinkling and pulsing with interlocking constellations of longing. A haunting exploration of the impossible quest to belong, and the convoluted, glistening paths it carries us down.’ Polly Barton, author of Fifty Sounds

The Pachinko Parlour is a quietly melancholic, softly textured and roundly gorgeous novel about identity and alienation. It will stay with me for a long time.’ Lara Williams, author of The Odyssey and Supper Club

‘A melancholic exploration of identity and belonging, The Pachinko Parlour is a beautifully told story of one woman trying to tether herself to something.’ Kasim Ali, author of Good Intentions

‘An exquisite, cinematic novel not afraid of subtlety. I looked forward to reading it at night, to spending time in Elisa Shua Dusapin’s Tokyo, and in her pleasing sentences, which I can still hear in my mind.’ Amina Cain, author of Indelicacy and A Horse at Night

‘A prismatic and calm guide of a book, that looks at the way that even (or especially) with family, you can feel the weight of your own distance. Rich with vitality and versions of togetherness.’ Tice Cin, author of Keeping the House

‘A book full of delicacy and melancholy . . . sprinkled with meticulous touches.’ Le Monde

‘A meditative, melancholic novel about belonging and identity.’ The Face

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Additional information

Weight 0.45 kg
Dimensions 20 × 13 × 5 cm